Tag Archives: E M Forster

The best novel ever? E.M. Forster – A Room with a View

068159I went off for the weekend to Italy this month to recreate my solo trip of 2000 when my main criteria was making sure I travelled to Florence and San Gimignano owing to my love of A Room with a View and Where Angels Fear to Tread.  So of course the only book I could possibly pack for a trip to Florence was this one.  I’m not sure how many times I have read this – at least six, I even chose to write my English A level coursework on it.

I was inspired to read this book after watching the fantastic Merchant Ivory adaptation , I fell in love with Julian Sands when I was about fifteen.  It was with trepidation that I reread this,  often the books you loved when you were younger no longer stand the test of time.  At first I thought it’s all just a series of implausible coincidences or fate as George calls it and the characters seemed undeveloped but I found myself falling in love with this book all over again.  The snobbishness of the characters and Forster’s portrayal of the English tourist are so funny.

dvd_room25Lucy Honeychurch visits Florence with her “prematurely aged martyr” cousin Charlotte Bartlett, there they encounter no room with a view and the unconventional, irreligious father and son, Mr and George Emerson.  The novel  opens with the Emerson’s offering the ladies their view which leads to the “better class of tourist being shocked at this ill breeding”.

botticelli-birth-venusItaly changes Lucy and makes her want equality with a man and understand her soul.  The novel is concerned with Lucy’s ‘undeveloped heart’, as Mr Emerson says, “you can transmute love, ignore, it muddle it but you can never pull it out of you”.  There are lots of funny incidents in the novel such as Lucy buying a postcard of the Birth of Venus, which she likes apart from the naked Venus  who spoils the picture.

If you are a true romantic, don’t Read the 1958 appendix ‘A View without a Room’ , where Forster takes a witty but depressing view of Lucy and George’s marriage after the novel ends, it will leave you disillusioned.  My advice is to stick to  enjoying the brilliance of the original novel.

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Holiday reading for Italy and my top 7 Italian themed books

Hurrah, booked my Easter holiday and we are off to Venice, Verona and Bologna.  Have never been to Bologna before but I absolutely love Venice and Verona.  While I am on holiday I always like to read books which are set in that country so any recommendations of good books set in Italy would be useful. These are some of the great books about Italy that I have read, they are more or less of order of brilliance;

1. City of Falling Angels – John Berendt.  This book is amazing, a really interesting non fiction account of Berendt’s arrival in Venice three days after the Fenice Opera house burns down.  He gives fascinating accounts of the city and its people, it is a must read for anyone going to Venice.

2. A Room with a View – EM Forster – amazing, made me want to go on a romantic honeymoon there, unfortunately haven’t met anyone romantic to go with!  Also Where Angels Fear to Tread, was great but might be a bit of a downer as a holiday read.

3. The Enchanted April – Elizabeth von Arnim.  This book is absolutely brilliant.  It is the story of four completely different English women in the 1920s who  go to stay in a secuded beautiful castle in Italy.  All are disillusioned in some way be it an unhappy marriage or disappointment in love, but  they find themselves being transformed by Italy itself.  The BBC drama on youtube is fantastic to watch too.

4. Miss Garnet’s Angel – Sally Vickers, I have already read this twice and enjoyed it much more the second time.

5. Dont Look Now – Daphne Du Maurier, if I want to end up completely terrified whilst in Venice.

6. Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco, interesting little mystery and not as highbrow as all his other books.

7. Sarah Dunnant – Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan.  Set in 16th century Florence and Venice respectively, good page turners but I was disappointed with her last novel.

Love in Idleness – Amanda Craig.  Now I have heard this book is good,  so if anyone has any opinions about it or has any other suggestions that  would be great.  Not sure I want to Death in Venice or Wings of a Dove again though.

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